Drink Driving


The main legislation dealing with road safety in Ireland is the Road Traffic Act 1961. This law is constantly updated and modernised and following the introduction of the Road Traffic Act 2006 the Gardai now have even wider powers to reduce drink driving on Irish roads. The provisions of the 2006 Act include random breath testing which gives the Gardai the power to breathalyse any driver stopped at a mandatory alcohol checkpoint without the need to form any opinion in relation to the driver of the vehicle.

The fundamental proof that the Gardai will rely upon in a prosecution against you for drink driving will be your blood, breath or urine alcohol level at the time the sample is given in the Garda station. There are a number of factors that will influence the level of alcohol in your system such as gender, age, weight, physical make up, amount and type of drink and whether food was consumed.

The following elements or proofs must be given to the court by the Gardai in order to obtain a prosecution for drink driving:

  • Proof that you drove or attempted to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle

  • Proof that the driving or attempt to drive took place in a public place

  • Proof that you were over the legal alcohol level

Penalties for drink driving offences

The penalties on conviction for drink driving offences will vary depending on the following:

  1. The concentration of alcohol that has been detected in your system

  2. Whether the offence is your first offence or otherwise.

It is important to note that all convictions for drink driving carry a mandatory disqualification from driving.

The length of the disqualification for drink driving is based on the concentration of alcohol detected in your system at the time of arrest and whether it is your first offence or not.

Concentration of alcohol

First offence (period of disqualification)

Second offence (period of disqualification)

(a) Not exceeding 100 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood; (b) Not exceeding 135 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine; (c) Not exceeding 44 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

1 year

2 years

(a) Exceeding 100 milligrammes but not exceeding 150 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood; (b) Exceeding 135 milligrammes but not exceeding 200 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine; (c) Exceeding 44 microgrammes but not exceeding 66 micorgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

2 years

4 years

(a) Exceeding 150 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood; (b) Exceeding 200 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine; (c) Exceeding 66 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

3 years

6 years

Remember, the above penalties are minimum penalties for drink driving and the judge has the discretion to increase these penalties.

Drink driving also carries financial penalties; as of 2007, the maximum fine is €5,000.

Early Restoration of Driver Licence

The rules which allow for the removal of a disqualification were changed from 5 March 2007. The changes to the law state that you can apply for the restoration of your licence if:

  1. You have been disqualified for the first time,

  2. for a period of more than 2 years,

  3. and at least half of the period of disqualification must have elapsed

The court may only reduce the overall period of the disqualification to a minimum of two-thirds of the period specified in the original disqualification order.

When a court is considering an application for the restoration of a driving licence it will look at the nature of the offence, the applicant’s character and the conduct of the applicant since the conviction.